Oromia Today

Independent Voice of Oromia

Article 39, Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership (Part II)

Article 39, Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership (Part II)

Mekuria Bulcha, PhD, Professor

10 July 2018

In this part of the article, I will first explore the reasons that gave the myth prominence in the anti-Article 39 discourse of the Habeshaelite. Secondly, I will define the myth, and contextualize the contradictions of its assumptions with the actual history of the modern Ethiopian empire state as well as with the fundamental human rights coded as Article 39. Finally, I will assess briefly the Habeshaelite’s understanding of Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s concept of “meddemer” (“added-ness”) vis-à-vis Article 39. I will argue that, for the present Ethiopian regime, the only means to solve the present crisis is not the rejection but an unreserved implementation of Article 39 and acknowledgment of the injustices committed by the Abyssinian ruling elite in the making of the current Ethiopian state. [More]

Article 39: Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership (Part II continued)

Article 39: Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership (Part II continued)

Mekuria Bulcha, PhD, Professor

25 July 2018

It is important to note here that the Oromo have never opposed the Abyssinian elites’ interest in preserving their own heritage. What they have always sought has been the acknowledgment that their political history is different from the Abyssinians’ autocratic heritage. They want the end of the Abyssinian elites’ interference in Oromo affairs and the preservation of the Oromo language, culture, and heritage. Article 39(2) states that “Every Nation, Nationality, and People in Ethiopia has the right to speak, write, and develop its own language; it also guarantees the right to express, develop, and promote its own culture and preserve its history.” Those who want to annul Article 39 want to deny the Oromo and other peoples these rights altogether and revert to the pre-1974 imperial system. That is tantamount to the declaration of a war. [More]

Article 39, Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership: Part I

Article 39, Oromo Nationalism, Abyssinian Exceptionalism & Expectations Raised by Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Premiership

Part I

Mekuria Bulcha, PhD, Professor

8 July 2018

Ethiopia is in the middle of one of the many crises it had faced since its creation as an empire at the end of the nineteenth century. During the last four years, its inhabitants have been demanding persistently fundamental changes. But, the changes sought by different groups are different, and in some cases contradictory. Most significantly, the change for which the Oromo struggle and the change the Habesha (Abyssinian) elite seek are basically different. The fundamental rights which the Oromo have been demanding are universal and were endorsed by the 1991 Transitional Charter (TC). The national liberation fronts that, including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), defeated the military regime and established the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), accepted the Charter as a last resort to avoid a chaotic disintegration of Ethiopia and create conditions for an orderly transition to a future which will be determined by the people themselves. A period of transition of two years was designed as a gateway to a more promising future (TC, Article 2).[1] However, the envisaged transition to a democratic future was derailed by the EPRDF regime soon after the Charter was signed and OLF was pushed out of the transitional government. The contents of Article 2 of the Transitional Charter were included as Article 39 of the EPRDF Constitution of 1995. However, the Ethiopian peoples have not been allowed to exercise most of the rights the Article endorses. The contents of the Article: [More]



25 June 2018

Our struggle is to secure our people’s inalienable right to national self-determination. Here, our first task is to end occupation, oppression, and exploitation of our nation and homeland. Having accomplished that, the second task is to persuade our people to establish their own legitimate government. It is this government of the people that can negotiate on behalf of our people as to whether to establish a political unity with other nations and nationalities or go their own way to establish their own independent state of Democratic Republic of Oromia. The choice will be decided by the people themselves. [More]

The History and Politics of the Qubee Alphabet

The History and Politics of the Qubee Alphabet 
Guluma Gemeda Professor, PhD
1 July 2018

Although it is widely utilized only for a generation, qubee has a long history and a remarkable success. It was first used in the early 1840s to translate sections of the Bible into Afaan Oromo and to write its grammar.[2] But the project was discontinued after King Menilek annexed the Oromo territories in the west, south, and southeast in the 1880s. Although some European scholars wrote some texts in Afaan Oromo and published dictionaries using the Latin alphabet, no major work was completed at home between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After long interruption, the search for an appropriate alphabet started by Oromo students in Europe in 1968.[3]After foundational works were completed, the Oromo students’ study group adopted qubee in 1972. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Oromo Liberation Front started to use qubee for communication and literacy work at its base and among Oromo refugees in neighboring counties. This led to the decision by Oromo scholars and politicians to officially adopt the use of qubee in 1991. Since 1991, qubee is used in schools in Oromia and by Oromo communities in diaspora. The current development of Afaan Oromo literature is the result of the search for a suitable alphabet the language. [More]

Walelign Mekonnen, the Question of Nationalities and Ethiopia’s Persistent Crisis

Mekuria Bulcha, PhD, Professor
9 June 2018

This article critiques the description of the source of the current Ethiopian crisis and the approaches suggested for its solution. While there is consensus concerning the magnitude of the crisis, its suggested source and solution are controversial. Commentators who have been writing or speaking about the crisis see the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM)of the 1960s and 1970sas the original instigators of the current political crisis of the Ethiopian state. The ESM is blamed of importing a foreign ideology that has divided the Ethiopian peoples into ‘tribes’. The late student leader Walelign Mekonnen is blamed as the main culprit. His article on the “Question of Nationalities” from 1969 is considered as the root of the crisis. In this article, I will argue that the purpose of Walelign’s thesis was not to sow seeds for Ethiopia’s disintegration, as suggested by those who demonize his name, but to solve existing problems and promote justice. Justice was to be done only through the recognition of the rights of each and every people in the empire. Walelign prioritized human and peoples’ rights over the territorial integrity of the Ethiopian state. The purpose of taking up the issue is not only to defend Walelign but to underline the relevance of his honest suggestions even today. He did not invent problems but described the existing reality on the ground. The concepts he used were and still are relevant and reflect the imperial nature and the structure of the Ethiopian state. The problem he described and the solution he suggested are pertinent today as they were in 1969. My firm belief is that demonizing Walelign and those who speak the truth cannot solve a serious problem rooted in the making of the Ethiopian empire state. The acknowledgement of the true history of its creation is the first step in the right direction to solve the problem. That was what was suggested by Walelign fifty years ago. [More]

Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s Speeches, Menilek II and the Problem of National Integration in Ethiopia

Professor Guluma Gemeda
16 May 2018 
Thus, seen from vantage point of the conquered peoples, Menilek’s image shifts from emmiye (a term of endearment) to a ruthless conqueror. The emerging scholarship from the south, such as the Oromo Studies, has challenged the one-sided, positive assessment of Menilek’s era by highlighting the violence and the costs of empire building. These studies show the dark side of Menilek’s reign and shed some light on the neglected aspects of Ethiopian history. [More]

TPLF’s genocidal policies and practices to reduce the Oromo nation to a minority

By Leenjiso Horo
April 15, 2018
The 19th-century Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky famously wrote: “History doesn’t teach anything, but greatly punishes one for not learning its lessons.” This quotation reminds us, our failure to learn lessons of our tragic history of a century ago, the tragic history that made Oromo people the victim of Abyssinia, ending in the conquest of Oromiyaa and putting the nation in disgrace and humiliation in which we found ourselves today. This article highlights lessons of past and present the tragic history of genocide to be learned and indicates a way forward. [More]

U.S. House of Representatives passes a far-reaching resolution: Will the TPLF regime care to listen?

Source: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-resolution/128/text
H. Res. 128
In the House of Representatives, U.S., April 10, 2018

Whereas the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has been an important partner of the United States and a regional leader in promoting economic growth, global health, and peace and security;

Whereas Ethiopia has helped advance the national interests of the United States and regional partners, including through contributions to international peacekeeping, combating radical Islamist extremism and other forms of terrorism, and regional cooperation through the African Union;

Whereas Ethiopia has made great strides in addressing significant challenges in global health, child survival, and food security;

Whereas Ethiopia’s transition from authoritarian rule to participatory democracy has not kept pace with other reforms;

Whereas the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed to win 99.6 percent of the vote in elections that were deemed neither free nor fair in 2010 and all 546 parliamentary seats in 2015, thereby further consolidating the EPRDF’s single-party rule;

Whereas the Charities and Societies Proclamation and Anti- Terrorism Proclamation, both enacted in 2009, have accelerated the contraction of democratic space, severely limited the practice of fundamental human rights, enabled abuses by security forces, and impeded efforts to promote accountability for such abuses in Ethiopia;

Whereas government forces launched a violent crackdown on protests by ethnic Oromo and Amhara over their perceived marginalization in 2015, resulting in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of arrests;

Whereas the Government of Ethiopia has recently released hundreds of political prisoners, but has continued to periodically detain government critics and opposition figures;

Whereas the Government of Ethiopia has periodically imposed a state of emergency that even further restricts freedoms of assembly, association, and expression, including through blockage of mobile internet access and social media communication;

Whereas the 2017 Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Ethiopia cited serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, killings, and torture committed by security forces, restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association, politically motivated trials, harassment, and intimidation of opposition members and journalists; and

Whereas these persistent human right abuses, including state-sponsored violence against civilians in the Oromia, Amhara, and Somali regions of Ethiopia, as well as the abuse of laws to stifle journalistic freedoms, stand in direct contrast to democratic principles, violate the Constitution of Ethiopia, and undermine Ethiopia’s position as a regional leader for economic growth, peace, and security: Now, therefore, be it [More]

'Freedom!': the mysterious movement that brought Ethiopia to a standstill

'Freedom!': the mysterious movement that brought Ethiopia to a standstill By Tom Gardner in Adama

March 13, 2018

In traditional Oromo culture the term denotes a young bachelor. But today it has broader connotations, symbolising both the Oromo movement – a struggle for more political freedom and for greater ethnic representation in federal structures – and an entire generation of newly assertive Ethiopian youth. [More]

On the Election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as EPRDF Chairman

30 March 2018 
By Caala Ibsa Oromo
For now, the big question is: what does Abiy’s election mean for the current political crisis in Ethiopia, and particularly for the Oromo, who have spearheaded the protests to the TPLF rule? Individuals and groups have already started speculating on different outcomes--positive or negative—depending on their political positions. Some activists spent no time to send congratulatory messages to Dr. Abiy and, shamefully, started addressing him with honorific ‘you’, although he is much younger than themselves. This could be typical political opportunism than genuine respect for the presumptive premier. Others have started setting the agenda for him as well. On the other hand, other individuals and opposition groups are already dismissing the election as irrelevant because there are still many structural issues that impede Abiy’s ability to reform the repressive and corrupt system. Given the TPLF’s lukewarm or hostile attitude towards his appointment as a prime minister, the skeptics could be right; he may not have enough strength to overcome the entrenched TPLF security and military establishments to be an effective prime minister. [More]

The State of Emergency is Illegitimate, but what would the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) do?

By Caala Ibsa Oromo
27th February 2018
Unable to address the grievances of the people and unable to control the Qeerroo movement, on February 16, 2018, the Ethiopian government has declared another state of emergency for six months. The latest state of emergency is the second since the one imposed after the Irreechaa Massacre of October 2, 2016, which lasted for ten months. Although provided in the EPRDF constitution of 1995 (Art. 93), declaring state of emergency is supposed to be very rare action, to be considered only when extraordinary circumstances such as foreign invasion, natural and environmental crises happened. But for the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime, declaring a state of emergency has become a routine administrative action to avoid addressing serious political issues. Repressive and undemocratic, wildered by mass protests and lacking neither the competence nor the fortitude to carry out reforms, the regime has opted for a state of emergency to prolong its stay in power. [More]

Oromiyaa: Moving Towards the Ultimate Victory

By Itana Gammada
23rd February 2018
Had it not been for the collaborator's support, the TPLF would not have survived one month in that country. Oromo youth and patriotic nationalists are now part and parcel of the ongoing bitter freedom struggle. It is now obvious that the OPDO, who placed themselves at the service of the fascist TPLF, are currently facing scrutiny and an agonizing dilemma: they are situated between two antagonistic forces, that of the venomous dying tyrants, TPLF, trying to strike, and that of the Oromo masses who have an inalienable right to fight for their freedom. And to the OPDO, who shouldn't have to be servile for the TPLF in their own country, it's time for them to join the masses and stand firm for the Oromo cause instead of attempting to save the genocide regime - any attempt to subvert the people's revolution or to preserve the dying TPLF fascist regime (EPDRF/TPLF) is doomed to fail. [More]

The Oromo struggle versus OPDO’s blindness toward Oromo history

By Leenjiso Horo
January 28, 2018

The fact is like all OPDO’s presidents before him, Lamma Magarsa too was appointed to be the president of OPDO by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) aka Woyane. Hence, he is president of OPDO, ​not the Oromo people. TPLF is an alien occupying force in Oromiyaa and it is a creator and a mentor of the OPDO. OPDO is a puppet organization and its goals and aims are one and the same with that of the TPLF. It has proven this to be true for the last twenty-seven years. Its president, Lamma Magarsa being appointed by the alien occupying force does not have the mandate from the Oromo people to speak on their behalf. [More]

The TPLF/EPRDF illegitimacy in Oromiyaa and the Oromo struggle

By Leenjiso Horo
January 4, 2018

The Tigrean regime of TPLF/EPRDF has no right to be in Oromiyaa. The reason is simple. It has no consent of the Oromo people. It is an occupying illegal force. Being an occupying force, it does not possess political legitimacy in Oromiyaa. And for this the Oromo people do not owe it respect, obligation and loyalty. Since it does not possess political legitimacy, it does not have legitimate authority to govern. [More]

Oromo protesters have time and hope on their side, the TPLF face gloom and doom

1 January 2018

By Caala Ibsa Oromo

The current political situation in Ethiopia and statements issued by government officials and ruling party leaders are bewildering. Witnessing the widespread anti-government protests and the emboldened posture of the Oromo youth (Qeerroo) movement, many observers believe that the downfall of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government, dominated by the Tigrayan People Liberation Front (TPLF), is imminent. Although the timing and the nature of the actual collapse of this regime is still uncertain, the balance of power has been shifting significantly over the last three years. It is now abundantly clear that the protesters have gained the momentum and the ruling party is hanging on a tight rope. [More]

Deciphering Lemma Megersa’s Speech in Bahr Dar

15 November 2017

By Caala Ibsa Oromo

In the middle of mass protests and deepening crisis in Oromia, Lemma Megersa, president of the Oromia regional state, traveled to Bahr Dar, on November 4, 2017, with elders and Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) leadership team to deliver a reconciliatory speech on the relationship between the Amhara and the Oromo, the two largest national groups in Ethiopia. He was appointed president late last year to manage the protests in Oromia, when his predecessor, Muktar Kedir, was unable to control the situation. Muktar was blamed on both sides—by the TPLF leaders and the Oromo people—for his feebleness and unwavering loyalty to the brutal regime, respectively. As his replacement, Lemma was expected to be a strong leader who could stabilize the situation either with a firm hand or soft speeches. Shortly after assuming power, he made some speeches in which he criticized the excesses of the TPLF and provided some hope for the protesting Oromo youth. Some of his public speeches, indeed, suggested that he has the fortitude to stand up to his bosses. Lately, even some activists in the Diaspora have started to believe in Lemma’s rhetoric and advocated for giving him some space to deliver on his promises. But many Oromos remained skeptical. So far, the speech that Lemma Megersa delivered in Bahr Dar on November 4 tends to prove that the skeptics are right. [More]